Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Marched By

Wow, looks like all of the base work that I've been putting in has really paid off. The last week of March was a recovery week, which included a swim time trial and a 15k race. Both turned out really well...

I've already written about the 15k in this post - Six PRs and a Bald Eagle, Oh My.

That one run has reset my thinking in a number of ways.

The swim TT went well also, although not quite as well. Way back in September I posted some goals for my upcoming off season - 2012 Goals. One of those goals was a 1000 m TT in 20 minutes by April 1. This was a crazy, rainbows and unicorns kind of goal as I would have to take over 3 minutes off of my previous PR. At the time I posted the goal, I was not committed to IMTX and thus I had no specific swim plans. The goal was really intended as a kick in the ass to keep me swimming after the half IM in October.

Anyway, I've been swimming quite a bit in preparation for IMTX and I've been feeling strong, so I knew that a PR was probable, I just didn't know how much time I would actually shave off my previous best. So to cut to the chase, as I setup for my swim, I was excited to get started. I swam a quick warm up and then I was off. Garmin beeped at me every 300 m and I tried to keep focused on my form. After the third alert I knuckled down and tried to sprint my way home.

End result: 20:58. Not quite the 20:00 that I was looking for, but still a full 2 minutes plus under my previous best. Progress!

The numbers:
Swim: 15.5 - not quite record distance, but close.
Bike: 386 miles - a record by over 100 miles. Lots of time spent in the saddle.
Run: 105 miles - a record month for sure.

April is a key training month for me - much of the month is my final build for IMTX. The next four weeks can make or break my whole plan, so I'm trying to stay laser focused and these recent successes have been very helpful with that.

So that was my March - awesome. Hopefully yours was just a cool.

Six PRs and a Bald Eagle, Oh My

Today the calendar said "15k race, all out. Try to negative split each 5k".

Actually, I've been thinking about this run for a couple of weeks now, wondering how fast I could really go and what my plan should be.  The last time I tried to run "all out" it was a dismal failure.  I started out way too fast and I couldn't hold pace for the entire distance.  Although I was ok with my time, I wasn't able to negative split and that was only a 10k, not a 15k.

Based on my recent longer runs, I settled on the following plan:

  • First 5k - keep to a heart rate in the 140s.
  • Second 5k - keep to a heart rate in the 150s.
  • Third 5k - stay over 160, but don't die!

My time goal for the day was under 75 minutes, which is considerably faster than my normal 9 min per mile training pace.

For the first mile I stayed mostly on pace, but I was a little psyched up, so I kept having to dial it back a little bit.  In general though it felt really good and when my Garmin beeped out a first split of 7:24, I kind of freaked out.  I slowed up a little more and settled into the high 140s.  So far, so good.  Miles two and three passed without event.  Slower than the first, but still starting with 7s instead of 8s - winning.

First 5k - 24:05

So, about that bald eagle...

In January of this year, people in my part of town started talking about bald eagle sightings.  Sure enough, a pair of bald eagles built a nest about four miles from my house and right along the soon to be completed, last leg of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) bicycle trail.  I run or bike on this trail nearly every day, but I've not been past that stretch of trail recently, so I've not seen the eagles or the nest - until today!

Between miles three and four I noticed small crowds gathering around spotting scopes and passing binoculars, so I looked up towards the hillside and sure enough, there was a giant bird with a shiny white head - bald eagle!  Holy crap.  The last bald eagle I saw was in Alaska and now I can see one within walking distance of my house, that's fantastic.

But back to my run.  As I edged into the second 5k I picked up the pace to move my heart rate into the mid 150s.  So far I'm right on plan and all I've seen is miles starting with 7!  If I can hold this together, this could be way faster than I was hoping.  This part of the route is more exposed than the first part and I found myself  running into the wind for a while.  Nothing major, but still, more wind that I was expecting.  I passed the halfway point and turned around and started back towards home.  Still on pace and feeling ok.

Second 5k - 22:59

Now comes the "hurt" part that everyone talks about in their 5k race reports.  Ugh, they are not kidding.  The plan is to push my heart rate north of 160 and keep it there until I collapse or finish.  Garmin beeps out a split for mile seven that starts with a 6 - holy crap, that's fast.  I go away for a minute or two while running with the wind past the local water park.  Garmin brings me back with another 6, but I'm starting to struggle. One mile and change left, reach deeper and keep going...  Oh my god, I'm going to die.  Garmin beeps out the final 6 (woot!) and I struggle to finish off the "and change".  And then it's over and I'm not dead.  Wow, that was way faster than I expected.  I guess all of those base miles have been worth the effort.

Third 5k - 20:51

Success on every possible metric.  I negative split each of the 5k sections and I even managed to negative split each of the miles in the final 5k.

I smashed my 10k PR in the out two thirds of the run and then I turned around and CRUSHED that in the back two thirds.  Along the way, I managed to PR every other distance along the way: 1 mile, 2 miles, 5k and 15k.

Overall, this was a super successful run and just what I needed to shake off the motivational blues and push forward into the final 5-week build before IMTX.

Oh and I got to see a bald eagle!

How about you, any bird watching or personal records in your first weekend of spring?